April 26, 2012

Sen. Scott Brown Took Credit For Watered Down STOCK Act, But New Disclosures Show Brown’s Top Bundler Lobbied To Weaken It

Sen. Scott Brown Took Credit For Watered Down STOCK Act, But New Disclosures Show Brown's Top Bundler Lobbied To Weaken It
Senator Scott Brown poses for a picture with lobbyist Wayne Berman. Berman lobbied to weaken the STOCK Act, Brown's signature accomplishment in Congress. The STOCK Act does little to reform corruption in Congress.

Republic Report has been highly criticalof the watering down of the STOCK Act, the recently enacted law to curb insider trading in Congress. New disclosures show that a group of well-connected lobbyists helped weaken the bill.

Senators talked a good game about reform, but managed to water down the legislation so much so that it became effectively meaningless. For instance, the bill’s sponsors, including Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Scott Brown (R-MA), worked to defeat strong amendments from Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to close the revolving door and force lawmakers to divest from companies they oversee. Most troubling was the effort to kill Senator Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) strong provision regarding what’s known as “political intelligence” — K Street lobbyists who sell inside information about what’s going on in government to Wall Street speculators. Grassley’s amendment, which would have simply required these political intelligence firms to register as ordinary lobbyists, was shot down.

Nevertheless, Senator Scott Brown was quick to take credit for the STOCK Act. Brown put out a video taking credit for reforming Congress:

In reality, however, Brown’s STOCK Act reflected the wishes of lobbyists who did not want to see real reform. New disclosures out last week show that some of the top K Streeters working to water down the bill have close ties to Brown. The Hill’s Kevin Bogardus reports:

Wall Street mobilized K Street to push back against a provision in an insider-trading bill that could have forced financial analysts and intelligence operatives to register as lobbyists, new records show. […]
The financial services firm Marwood Group hired Elmendorf-Ryan in February to lobby on “issues related to the STOCK Act.” Led by well-known Democratic lobbyists Steve Elmendorf and Jimmy Ryan, the firm earned $10,000 in lobbying fees from Marwood this past quarter. Marwood already had Ogilvy Government Relations on its lobbying team, with prominent GOP lobbyists Wayne Berman and Drew Maloney lobbying on issues related to the STOCK Act. Marwood paid the firm $70,000 in lobbying fees last quarter, along with $160,000 for 2011.

Who is Wayne Berman? He’s a lobbyist, but also a major fundraiser for Brown. Berman has thrown financial industry fundraisers for Brown, and is leading efforts to steer cash toward Brown’s reelection effort.

Brown is running campaign advertisements touting his work on the STOCK Act. What he isn’t telling people, however, is that his bill is toothless and the lobbyist who helped remove its teeth is bankrolling Brown’s campaign with Wall Street cash.